You’ve probably heard that the three most important factors in choosing real estate are “location, location, and location.” Generally, the sentiment is tied to the perceived value of the property. Your investment in a home and its growth in value depends largely on location. But your home’s value is not the only thing that affects your bottom line. Your living expenses may be higher or lower depending on your house’s location. Be sure to factor in location-related costs or savings when making a home-buying decision. Choosing the right home can help you save money on these expenses:
1. Transportation to work
Jackie Beck of TheDebtMyth.com works just a couple of miles from her home. This arrangement saves on vehicle expenses, such as cash outlays or monthly payments for the purchase of a vehicle as well as gas, vehicle maintenance, and insurance.
2. Travel to entertainment
Jackie lives in the Phoenix metro area, where restaurants, movies, and more are all within walking distance. She doesn’t have to drive 30 minutes from the suburbs to the downtown entertainment district, avoiding expenses like bus fare and parking fees.
3. Insurance premiums
Kate Horrell of KateHorrell.com points out that insurance premiums may vary depending on your zip code. You may naturally think of homeowner’s insurance potentially costing less if you lived in a lower-crime area or one with fewer claims, for example, and you’d be right according to MSN Real Estate. Other factors that may impact homeowner’s insurance costs include a home’s proximity to the nearest fire department and potential to be harmed by natural disasters. However, property insurance is not the only type of coverage affected by location. Healthcare insurance premiums also vary by city and state.
4. Recreational amenities
A neighborhood with multi-use trails, playground equipment, tennis courts, community pool, and/or marina can save you money. For starters, you may be able to avoid paying a gym membership if there are workout facilities right outside your door. Plus, if you have children who you want to be active, like Kate, then easy access to a pool without steep membership fees and lengthy drive times is a money saver.
Both Kate and Megan Brinsfield, CFP, tell me that you can save on taxes based on your home’s location. There are various types of taxes that may be lower (or higher) depending on your neighborhood, zip code, city, county, and state. Consider all types of taxes, including property taxes, special assessments for improvements like sidewalks, local sales taxes, and state income taxes. Megan points to the Total Tax Insights tool created by AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) that can help you determine the impact of all types of taxes based on where you live.
6. Homeowners association dues
Homeowners associations (HOAs) are worthy organizations that maintain common areas and enforce neighborhood rules, which can help preserve and boost home values. But the monthly fees can be high. When Kelly Whalen of The Centsible Life looked for a home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she noticed that the combination of HOA dues and property taxes easily added hundreds of dollars to monthly expenses, even among houses in similar school districts. Buying a home in a neighborhood without an HOA can save money every month.
7. School tuition
Eric Rosenberg of Narrow Bridge Finance considered location to downtown amenities, HOA dues, and school districts before he decided where to live and what house to buy (even before having children). Check out the quality of the public schools to which your children will be assigned. If you can send your kids to public schools rather than private ones, you can save thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars each year.
8. Moving expenses
Teresa Mears of Living on the Cheap reminds me that the proximity to job opportunities can be an important factor in home’s location. If your home is within commuting distance of great opportunities, then you can avoid paying moving expenses when changing jobs. Choosing a home is a big decision. Consider both the home’s long-term potential value and the money-saving features associated with its location before you buy.